Alumnus Brings Opera to Broadway

Garrett Sorenson speaks on the role Texas Tech played in helping him make his big-stage debut.

In the production, Sorenson plays Tony Candolino, a tenor who sings in Maria Callas' (Tyne Daly) master class.

In the production, Sorenson plays Tony Candolino, a tenor who sings in Maria Callas' (Tyne Daly) master class.

As a former student in the School of Music, one alumnus never expected he would perform on Broadway and work opposite 1980’s “Cagney and Lacey” star, Tyne Daly. But Garrett Sorenson is doing just that, making his Broadway debut in “Master Class,” which opened July 7 and runs through September 4.

Sorenson, one of the stars of the limited-run, sold-out production, said Texas Tech was where he began to dream.

The production captures the story of Maria Callas (Daly) and the master classes she gave at Julliard during 1971 and 1972. Sorenson’s character, Tony Candolino, plays the tenor who sings in Callas’ master class.

“I fit the role really well because when I was in the Metropolitan Young Opera program, I did a lot of master classes with rich and famous singers, so it’s a lot like life,” Sorenson said. “It was very natural.”

A Dream Made Reality

Sorenson called the opportunity to work with Tyne Daly an amazing, dream-like scenario.

“She really epitomizes the leading lady,” Sorenson said. “She’s very generous and very hard working. She’s the first one to rehearsal and last to leave. She’s just such a real artist. We’ve had lots of conversations about literature and poetry, and, of course, she has a billion stories about every famous actor, writer and director you’ve ever heard of. It’s amazing.

On top of all that, she’s an amazing cook, he said.

“She’s always baking cookies and pies and things like that and bringing them to rehearsals or shows,” Sorenson said.

Sorenson said Texas Tech was the place he began to believe a career in such a competitive field was possible and credits John and Mary Gillas, former professors in the School of Music, for his success.

“I had been studying as a baritone for a long time before I started working with John Gillas,” he said, “and once he sort of talked me into the fact that I was a tenor and not a baritone, and got me going in that direction, things happened really fast for me in an opera way. I went to Santa Fe and then immediately to the Metropolitan Opera as a young artist there.”

While opera remains his passion, Sorenson said he seized the opportunity to work on Broadway.

While opera remains his passion, Sorenson said he seized the opportunity to work on Broadway.

Making The Switch

John Gillas remembers helping Sorenson make the switch from baritone to tenor. Soon after, Sorenson was performing at the Metropolitan Opera, which is like the Mecca for opera singers, Gillas said.

“Garrett is extremely talented and has innate musicality,” Gillas said. “Broadway is another kind of accomplishment. I’m very excited for him.”

While Broadway is something Sorenson never would have turned down, it is not a role he would normally seek out as an opera singer. With opera remaining as his true passion, he seized the opportunity to combine the art with a platform such as Broadway.

“This just sort of came up as a different opportunity. I grabbed it, and I’m really glad I did because it has been a wonderful experience,” he said. “It’s a Broadway play that needed a legitimate opera singer. Good things sort of added to good things, and I ended up making a Broadway debut.”

When not rehearsing and performing, Sorenson is a husband and dad, spending his time exploring New York with his wife and two sons.

With a daughter on the way, the family has enjoyed the beach, museum and park time in Manhattan this summer.

As for a future on Broadway, Sorenson said a return is certainly a possibility.

Prior to his role in “Master Class,” Sorenson said he never viewed himself as someone who would have a place in a Broadway show or play.

“Now I’ve seen otherwise,” he said. “If there was another role or opportunity that really fit me as an actor and a singer, like this did, I would totally jump at the chance.”

Meet the "Master Class" Cast & Crew

Sorenson speaks about his personal experiences with master classes at 1:07.

School of Music

The School of Music

The School of Music is part of the J.T. and Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts.

With more than 500 students, the size is ideal for creating larger ensembles as well as ensuring individual attention with private study.

Faculty includes a performing specialist on all band and orchestral instruments as well as piano, voice, organ, harp and guitar, and specialists in conducting, composition, electronic music, music education, musicology, world music and music theory.



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